The Arizona Democratic Party goes to federal court Tuesday, Oct. 3, in a bid to overturn a ban on “ballot harvesting” and ensure that ballots cast in the wrong precinct are counted anyway. The Democrats’ attorney, Bruce Spiva, contends the Republican-controlled Legislature acted illegally last year in making it a felony for an individual to take anyone else’s early ballot to a polling place. Spiva said he will present evidence that the measure will cause undue harm to minorities and other groups. But Sara Agne, attorney for the Arizona Republican Party, who is defending the law, will argue that lawmakers were entitled to put procedures in place designed to prevent fraud. Spiva could have an uphill battle.
U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Rayes last year refused to stop the state from enforcing the law while its legal merits are being debated. He concluded there was no “quantitative evidence” to show minorities were more likely to be harmed than anyone else.
The full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard arguments last year in San Francisco, thought otherwise and agreed to enjoin enforcement. But that decision was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, with the justices concluding they did not want to make such a radical change so close to last year’s election.